As with just about everything these days that goes the route of becoming electronic, so are medical records. Not to be confused with Electronic Health Records (which tends to be a more complete record of a person’s health history), Electronic Medical Records, or EMRs, are typically comprised of health related information that pertains directly to an individual procedure, diagnosis or a specific treatment. The idea behind using EMRs is that a specialist, say a Dermatologist, will not need all of your health related information to treat you for eczema and will be able to use an EMR for that specific disease and treatment.

Once the information has been saved in an Electronic Medical Record, it may also be included in an overall Electronic Health Record if your doctor has compatible software for combining the two, or interoperability as the term is known in the technical community. This would ensure that your complete medical history stays intact from doctor to doctor and procedure to procedure. However, many doctor’s do not choose to use medical record keeping in its electronic form; according to surveys completed in 2006, over 90% of hospitals in the United States and 84% of primary care physicians do not use any form of electronic record keeping. This is unfortunate because implementing this form of record keeping could save roughly 11 Billion dollars annually and in order to promote this form of record keeping, the United States Congress has allowed for an incentive provision in the 2009 Stimulus and Economic Recovery Act.

Even though there is a push for more doctors and hospitals to use Electronic Medical Records, there is still great resistance due to the potential for privacy breaches. The privacy concerns are due to the large number of people who would need to have access to them in order to do their jobs properly. While there are strong security measures in place for wired computer systems, the wireless networks are causing concern and give credence to the privacy factor. Once security is not an issue, and proper confidentiality safeguards are in place for those who have access to the system, the move to Electronic Medical Records should begin to happen across the country.